Tuesday, March 28, 2006

There's a Hole in My Bucket, Vincente, Vincente!

This morning I had an interesting conversation via the internet with The Maximum Leader. I expressed to him my displeasure over our inability to control our borders. He pointed out, quite rightly, that we've NEVER really controlled our borders. In fact, almost exactly 100 years ago, one of the biggest issues facing the US government was Pancho Villa and his incursions from Mexico into the United States. A century later, our immigration problems are being caused by a different type of incursion, but while they're still mostly from Mexico, the ones that are scarier still are the possible incursions by terrorist cells from other parts of the world. The importance of stopping these incursions and securing our borders are more important now than even in the days of Pancho Villa.

We began discussing what we think are the steps needed to secure our borders. We disagreed on the importance of a secure system of walls and fences, but agreed on the need to increase Border Patrol Personnel, and to equip them with the tools and the legal clout to really enforce our borders. I am convinced that this is essential for stopping the influx of illegal immigrants. It isn't the only thing that needs to be done, but any other efforts at curtailing illegal immigration are useless without a strong, secure border.

I proposed another measure, with which The Maximum Leader disagreed, and I see his point. Earlier in the morning I had commented over at Mean Mr. Mustard in a post on Immigration Reform. In it I suggested that diplomatic and economic pressure on the countries from which the majority of the illegal immigrants come. Mike again had to remind me that the largest source of illegals is Mexico, and there is not amount of pressure we could put on Mexico that would outweigh the economic benefits they gain from all the money sent back to Mexico by the illegals. He argued that the only thing that will stop the flow is economic development in Mexico. For starters, he advocated more investment in Mexico by US Corporations.

There was a time when I was much more sympathetic towards illegal immigrants, I made a similar argument, and to a certain extent, I still agree, though now I'm more inclined to side with Mike in advocating investment than I am to go back to believing, as I did then, in Federal aid to Mexico. But I have one big caveat: While living in San Diego, I had occasion to talk to MExicans quite often, including discussions of Mexican politics. To anyone living near the border, it wqas obvious that corruption is rampant in Mexican politics, at every level. And we're talking about a degree of corruption that our worst Scandals in the US can't even come CLOSE to matching. As things stand in Mexico, any economic development is highly likely to end up doing little more than further enrichening and empoweirng those in Mexico who are already rich and powerful. Without some real reform at all levels of government, things won't get that much better in Mexico. And until they get better, illegal immigration to the United States will still be an attractive option. And it's a vicious cycle, because as long as the United States lies waiting as an attractive destination for illegal aliens, as long as they know they can seek a better life by crossing the border, there is little incentive to reform Mexico. Why do the hard work of improving Mexico when going Norte is so easy?

Which places the burden squarely on our shoulders. If our borders are to be secure, we must secure them. If illegal immigration is to be curtailed, we must curtail it. In the long run, not only is this the sane and necessary policy for the United States to follow, it will provide the impetus for the citizens of Latin America, especially of Mexico, to take the initiative and clean their own houses. And that way leads to the opportunity for real economic development, for jobs and opportunities at home in Mexico. The only real losers in such a plan are those in Mexico already getting rich off the suffering of their people.

Is it any wonder that some of the loudest voices coming from Mexico in opposition to US immigration reform are from those in power?

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